John D. Rockerduck is a fictional character from the Scrooge McDuck Universe. He is one of Scrooge McDuck's main rivals. His name is a play on that of John D. Rockefeller, a famous American industrialist and philanthropist. He was created by Carl Barks, who used him in one story: Boat Buster, first published in December, 1961.
Barks never gave Rockerduck an origin. Don Rosa later provided him with one, in his series The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck. According to Don Rosa, Rockerduck has several differences from both his fictional rival and his historical namesake. Rockefeller and Scrooge were born in poverty and worked to earn their fortunes. John D. Rockerduck was born in 1878 to Howard Rockerduck, an American millionaire who had earned his fortune in the California gold rush of 1849. While John's father was a shrewd businessman but a mild-mannered man, his mother was a rather snobbish woman who spoiled her son. Much to his father's disappointment, John learned at an early age to look down on everyone less affluent than his family as a "peasant". While his father tried to remind him that he was once poor too, John became as snobbish as his mother.
John's first meeting with Scrooge occurred in 1885, in Butte, Montana. At the time John was 7 years old and Scrooge was 18 years old. Howard Rockerduck was heading to a meeting with Marcus Daly, an Irish businessman known as the "Copper King", to discuss his investments in "The Anaconda Copper Mining Company". Unsure of the way, Howard stopped to ask for directions. The person he asked was young Scrooge, at the time an unsuccessful copper prospector. Despite John's protestations, Howard started having a friendly discussion with the inexperienced prospector and ended up teaching Scrooge the secrets of the job, and helping him earn a thousand dollars. While Scrooge had to leave for Scotland to attend to family business, John again protested against his father's relationship with the "filthy peasant". Howard, to whom Scrooge resembled his younger self, introduced his son to corporal punishment in an effort to teach him some manners. (Judging from his later behavior, this didn't work.) John Rockerduck would later inherit his father's fortune and grow to become a rival of Scrooge. According to Rosa's timelines, John died during the 1970s.
The appearance in The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck was the only use of the character by Don Rosa.
The character has rarely appeared in American stories but appears regularly in Brazilian and European stories, and more often in Italian ones. His first appearance in an Italian story was Zio Paperone e il kiwi volante ("Uncle Scrooge and the flying kiwi") by Gian Paolo Barosso and Giorgio Bordini, first published in March 1, 1963. Since then the Italian creators have further developed the character and have examined various layers of his relationship with Scrooge.
Like his rival he is a shrewd businessman and has managed to organize a world-wide financial empire that can easily rival those of Scrooge and Flintheart Glomgold. Unlike them, he is not a tightwad but rather a free-spending billionaire. Rockerduck has a taste for luxury, and likes to show off his wealth. Besides his secretary, advisor and right-hand man Lusky, he doesn't seem to have any close confidants.
Like Scrooge and Flintheart, Rockerduck is extremely competitive. He is rivalling them in the wealth department and has occasionally claimed the titles of "The Richest Duck in the World" and "The Second Richest Duck in the World". Since those titles belong to Scrooge and Flintheart respectively, it can be inferred that he owns the title of "The Third Richest Duck in the World", but this has not been explicitly stated in any major story. He is an influential member of the Billionaires' Club of Duckburg, of which Scrooge and Flintheart are also members. No story presents him and Flintheart meeting though.
Rockerduck is also has a passion for collecting. Besides his valuable coins and stamp collection, he is also the owner of an extensive art collection, including artifacts created from antiquity through to the 20th century. Since Scrooge also has collections of the same theme and similar value, many of their confrontations center on them trying to obtain a new addition to their collections.
Many of the stories presenting him, especially during the 1970s and the 1980s, compare and contrast his and Scrooge's methods of organizing their business in order to gain profit. Some of those methods include researching new products for their industries, ways of refining and improving the existing ones, and the study of new producing methods. Also ways of improving their marketing techniques and public relations, in order to increase sales. Or even trying to improve the ratings of their TV stations and the sales of their newspapers, in order to have more clients paying for advertisements in them. Both he and Scrooge try to predict each other's moves in order to act accordingly. In his efforts, Rockerduck often resorts to industrial espionage or sabotage. Although less often, Scrooge occasionally uses the same methods. Sometimes Rockerduck's plans against Scrooge involve more severe actions like abduction, hijacking his planes or blackmailing him. On these occasions he hires the Beagle Boys to do his dirty work for him.
On a more personal level, Scrooge and Rockerduck seem to bicker constantly, criticizing each other's ways of life and personal faults. But even at times when Rockerduck had Scrooge at his mercy, he doesn't attempt to kill his opponent. Although his confrontations with Scrooge have often found him defeated or even humiliated, he has commented on at least enjoying the challenge that Scrooge presents to him. At times the two find each other co-operating to achieve common goals. If they are worthy rivals to each other, they also seem to make effective partners—but only in a temporary basis. Some stories portray Rockerduck in a more positive light and portray him as friendly towards Scrooge's associates like Brigitta McBridge and Donald Duck, as he has nothing personal against them. When relaxed he can even be a pleasant companion for them or Scrooge.
Other stories have further traced the Rockerduck family history. Although some depict John as a distant cousin of Scrooge, through an unspecified genealogical connection, others have traced their rivalry to their ancestors. Arguably the most notable among the later stories is an eight-part saga named Storia e glory della dinastia dei paperi ("History and glory of the Duck dynasty") by Guido Martina, Romano Scarpa, Giorgio Cavazzano and Giovan Battista Carpi, first published April 5-May 24, 1970. It depicts their family history, as a family feud that begun in Rome during the 1st century BC and continues to the 20th century.
In many countries Rockerduck is almost as well known as Scrooge himself. In others, like the USA, he is relatively obscure and sometimes translators get him confused with Flintheart Glomgold, who is more widely known. But he is certainly one of the most prominent characters appearing in Scrooge McDuck stories.